The intensely competitive but critical domestic U.S. destination markets got some welcomed recognition with the announcement of winners of the 2013 Mercury and Destiny awards, State Tourism Director of the Year and DMO Rising Star during the U.S. Travel Association's annual ESTO conference held this week in Richmond. ESTO is a national forum bringing together travel destination professionals from the local, state, and regional levels.
The Mercury awards are given to state tourism offices by the National Council of State Tourism Directors (NCSTD) and the Destiny awards are given to destination marketing organizations at the local and regional levels by the Destinations Council.
A total of 17 awards were given in 17 categories, U.S. Travel said. "Both programs recognize members for excellence and creative accomplishment in tourism marketing and promotion, and to inspire the continued development of exciting destination marketing and promotion programs."
This year the awards were judged by JWT, an international marketing and communications firm. The agency was chosen to help develop Brand USA's national travel promotion strategy, U.S. Travel notes.
State Tourism Director of the Year: As reported, Tennessee’s Susan Whitaker was honored by NCSTD as the 2013 State Tourism Director of the Year. The award annually recognizes a state tourism director who contributes to successfully raising the profile of his or her state as a travel and tourism destination. It's a unique honor as fellow state tourism directors cast the ballots in the election, selecting the individual exhibiting the most impressive achievements.
DMO Rising Star: The Destinations Council named Annie Bailey of Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory as the 2013 DMO Rising Star of the Year. The new award recognizes the achievements of an individual working for a destination marketing organization for less than three years, but who has already made significant contributions to the destination marketing industry.
Destination & Travel Foundation — Destinations Council Continuing Graduate Student Scholarship: George Washington University Masters of Tourism Administration candidate Jared Dial received the 2013 Destinations Council Continuing Graduate Student Scholarship. Awarded to a graduate student in the field of travel and tourism, the winner is selected based on goals and accomplishments in travel. Other award winners are available online.